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He died peacefully at his home in Cambridge in the early hours of Wednesday, his family said. The Briton was known for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time. At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that marked him out as much as the fierce intellect which, coupled with his illness, came to symbolise the unbounded possibilities of the human mind.